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1934 Marion High grad to parade

News editor

Marion High School graduating classes from 1954 to 2004 will ride through Saturday’s Old Settlers’ Day parade on hayracks, trailers, and trams, but the oldest class represented could get by riding a unicycle.

Ninety-eight-year-old Irene Richmond of Marion will cruise Main St. in a car instead, representing the Class of 1934.

“It’s kind of an honor to do it,” Richmond said. Of the 51 graduates in 1934, she said she is one of three still living, including Mary Yeagley Travis, who lives in Marion at St. Luke Living Center, and Hazel Higgins Selvy, of Colorado Springs.

A comment Richmond made recently while having lunch at Marion Senior Center led to some secret planning, and Richmond’s daughter-in-law, Feebie Holdeman, told her about the ride. Initially hesitant, Richmond said she warmed quickly to the idea.

“I told Feebie I thought it was kind of neat,” Richmond said. “Not many people can say they graduated 80 years ago. I’ve really been lucky.”

The country was in the midst of the Great Depression when Richmond was a senior, but she said it didn’t have much impact on her high school experience.

“I guess we didn’t think anything about it,” Richmond said. “Everybody was in the same position, nobody had any money.”

She was aware then of what things cost.

“You can’t believe a $15 payment for a home, could you? That’s what my folks had to pay,” Richmond said. “Can you believe 10 cents for a loaf of bread, or two pounds of hamburger for a quarter?”

One of four children in her family, Richmond was the only one to graduate high school. She recalled some aspects of her senior year.

“You took your lunch,” Richmond said. “Some days it was snowy, and you wanted to stay at school. I never went to football games, I just wasn’t interested. I used to play volleyball. In the summer I played baseball. I wasn’t very tall. I was only 5 feet, 2 inches. Now I’m less than five feet — I’m shrinking.”

Richmond keeps up on current events, and said she’s proud her alma mater recently made Newsweek’s list of America’s top high schools.

“I think that’s great,” she said. “We need something to perk this town up.”

Richmond attends Eastmoor United Methodist Church, goes to Tuesday afternoon Bible study, and eats lunches at Marion Senior Center, but otherwise prefers to keep her schedule open.

“I do not want to have to be at a certain place at a certain time every week or every month,” she said. “Just whatever strikes my fancy to do.”

Richmond offered advice for this year’s Marion High senior class.

“Study and get the most out of it, and do some extra activities,” she said. “You’ll never be sorry. Because after you graduate, you’re an adult, and you’ll work the rest of your life. You can go through school and enjoy it, and study, too.”

Last modified Sept. 25, 2014

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